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ICS Background

ICS 1978, Manchester

31st August - 2nd September 1978

David Warrell

ICS 1978

Convenor: David Warrell

Scientific committee chair: John Gosling, Prof of Anatomy (special interest in the anatomy and nerve supply of the pelvic floor).

The Welcome Ceremony Reception was held in the Whitworth Art Gallery where the ICS was greeted by Epstein’s Genesis; a more than life sized marble statue of a heavily pregnant Lancastrian, reminding the Society of the most common cause of disturbance of urinary and faecal control in women.

The Gala Dinner was at Tatton Hall set in lush Cheshire parkland. Drinks on the lawn, Bach on the pipe organ, a welcome by Morris Dancers, and then dinner in the ancestral hall, combined to form a pleasant relaxing and memorable evening. The last bus back to the city awaited two members who could not be found. Eventually the couple emerged rather sheepishly from some bushes, to the amusement of the on-lookers!

The second evening event was held in the Piccadilly Hotel in the middle of Manchester where most members were staying. This was a light hearted affair followed by entertainment in the shape of Lancashire clog dancers.

David Warrell commented that, "This meeting was held in the Manchester Medical School Aug 31-Sept 3, 1978 at a time when the understanding of disturbances of bladder/sphincter and ano-rectal function was limited. Much of the knowledge now taken for granted had yet to be discovered, verified, accepted and taken into practice.

Indeed the perceived need to improve matters was one of the underlying reasons behind the rapid growth of the society. Meetings hadn’t developed much of a structure and were left to the host group to manage.

The group that organised this meeting came from different disciplines and its make up was fairly typical of those who had come together to form the ICS. It consisted of an anatomist, a geriatrician, three gynaecologists, a physicist, and a urologist. This group had met regularly for several years and felt they could arrange a meeting without having to hire a professional meeting organiser. The ICS records since are not clear on when professional conference organisers were first employed.

In the late seventies the main areas of interest were the need to understand the mechanism of symptoms and make a reliable diagnosis, response to treatment and the need for objective measurement of the outcome. A general call for papers produced a good response and it was possible to select enough interesting papers to be read and discussed over two days. These were grouped under broad headings; such as measurement, diagnosis and treatment to form single sessions attended by the entire membership. The four hundred or so people who came were comfortably accommodated in one lecture theatre.

An innovation of this meeting was the reproduction of papers in a single bound volume, taking over from previous collections of cyclostyled sheets.

Like all scientific meetings much of the value is gained outside the lecture theatre so attention was paid to this aspect.

An opportunity was arranged for those who wanted to watch football and Manchester United. Those who went were warned not wear any clothing of colours that might identify one as a supporter of one or other of the teams. The crowd watching was almost as interesting as the football, but we were also warned not to stand and watch any ‘bovver’ meaning fights among the yobo supporters of the two teams, as we might get drawn into it!! Amongst other attractions was a visit to a memorial to the passenger killed on the first trip of the first steam train in the world. There must be a moral somewhere!

At the debriefing meeting after the event the organising group felt that a few new bits of knowledge had been shared and quite a few professional relationships had been made or strengthened.

As a group we had enjoyed the exercise and the cementing of our friendships which went on to improve research collaboration and patient care in Manchester."

David Warrell was a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, with a special interest in Urogynaecology. He set up a highly successful Urogynaecology Unit in the 1960s which continues to this day under the direction of Mr Tony Smith. Through this department many of the Urogynaecologists in the North of England of today were trained.

David was a supreme and highly respected all-rounder, being a skilled clinician, diagnostician and surgeon who thought deeply about clinical problems and tested many theories in his research studies. He was at the centre of a distinguished group of basic clinical scientists at that time in Manchester, including John Gosling, Professor of Anatomy at the Medical School, and John Dixon, and Gordon Hosker.

In 1978 a very successful meeting of the ICS was held in Manchester which was masterminded by David as Chairman of the Organising Committee. An abiding memory of the regular committee meetings needed to organise this large and important International Conference was that they were always preceded by drinks then supper with copious supplies of wine. Thus they were enjoyable and hilarious events and committee members were more than happy to take on whatever chores required to be done. The end result was memorable event both from a scientific and social point of view which set a very high standard for future organisers to emulate.

David had many international friends in urology and gynaecology made through ICS meetings, such as Jack Robertson (Santa Monica, California) and Don Ostergard (San Diego). David was a major force in the UK in the early days of urodynamics and his influence is still appreciated by those who were trained by him. He retired to North Wales with his wife, Valerie, and he still keep in touch with many friends made through the ICS.

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